And I Still Have Time to Be – James Hayden

About the Author:

James Hayden was born, raised, and currently lives in the New Orleans area. He is a New Orleans Saints fan, Survivor super fan, HLA technologist, writer, and a person who stutters. James is the author of Dear World, I Stutter: A Series of Open Letters from a Person Who Stutters. His work has been published by The Mighty, The Stuttering Foundation, Yahoo, and MSN. James has also appeared on several podcasts and was a speaker at TEDx Ochsner 2019. He also serves as the chapter leader for the New Orleans chapter for the National Stuttering Association.

…And I Still Have Time to Be

Every journey is a story waiting to be told.  When I think of my journey, I think of the final three lines of one of my favorite poems, Anis Mojangi’s “Here Am I.” 

…Already am

Always ways

And I still have time to be.

Looking back and looking ahead on my journey, each of these lines represent different mile posts. They also inspire me. 

Already Am:

I didn’t reach this milepost until a couple of years ago. I know I am not one of one, but rather one of seventy million who stutter. I know I am not alone in this journey, but rather a part of an incredible community of people that “get it.” I know that I am not defined by my stutter, but rather it is one the many unique things that make up who I am.  I know that I am not limited in what I can do because I stutter. I know that I am not my audience’s court jester because I stutter. I know that I am not represented by Porky Pig. In my late twenties, I am now confident in my voice and in myself. With hindsight, I know that going back to speech therapy was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I am comfortable and willing to talk about this part of myself. Although difficult at times, I am choosing to accept and embrace this part of myself. I like to think that I am a better person because of this choice. 

The person I am today is inspired by the person I was. 

Always Was:

Growing up, I thought I just was. I thought I was the only person out of seven billion who talked differently. I thought I was alone in this journey. I thought I was the only one who “got it”. I thought my speech was something that needed to be fixed. I thought it was someone to be embarrassed by. I thought I was going to have limited opportunities because of it. I was singled out every time I left school to go to speech therapy. Because of Porky Pig, I thought I was the court jester in every situation. In my late teens and early twenties, I was not confident in my voice nor myself. I was ashamed of being a 20-something in speech therapy. I was not comfortable or willing to talk about this part of myself. I was not accepting nor embracing of this part of myself. I allowed stuttering to hold me back from the person I wanted to be. 

The person I want to be is inspired by I am and the person I was. 

And I Still Have Time to Be

The person I want to be is inspired by who I am and who I was. I want to be more confident in the areas of stuttering that I still struggle with. I want to be a bigger advocate for the stuttering community. I want to continue to be confident in my voice and in myself. I want to continue to accept and embrace this part of myself. I want to help other find their voice and their self-confidence.  I want to be a positive role model for the next generation of PWS. I want them to know that Porky Pig is the anthesis of who they are and how they should view themselves. I want to be someone who shows them that stuttering is not who they are rather it is one of the many things that makes them uniquely them. I want to continue openly talking about my stutter. I want to continue further embracing and accepting this part of myself. 

 I want to be the person I need right now, even if I don’t know who that is. 

The story of my journey is best summarized by Shane Powers, “One plus one plus one plus one equals this.” This being where I am today, at the age of 27, on my journey with stuttering.

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And I Still Have Time to Be – James Hayden — 23 Comments

  1. “The person I am today is inspired by the person I was” That was a beautiful and deep phrase 🙂

    Greetings from Peru!

  2. Great essay. It inspired me to look up Anis Mojangi’s “Here Am I.” That’s quite a piece of work.

  3. James,

    I am so thankful that you wrote for the conference, what a wonderful piece you have composed! Thank you so much for sharing your work of art with the world!


  4. James,

    I think you touched upon something that most people don’t think about. The person who you were made you into the person you are today. It does not necessarily mean the person you previously were was a negative thing, but something that you can look back on and see how much you have grown. I think this is something everyone should think about. So they too can strive for the person they want to be. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful piece!

  5. James,

    Thank you so much for sharing. I loved reading your price and learning a bit about your story. Our identity is made up of so many different things, not just one point in time or one quality. Thank you for sharing about your identity, it’s past, and how you are growing!

  6. James,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. It really hit on some really important points about life that I think we all should remember. Thank you so much for sharing this with us all and how much you’ve grown through your journey! It was very inspiring.

  7. Hello,

    I really liked your section on “I still have time to be.” It got me thinking about who I am and who I want to be. We will always have time to become who we want to be and do what we want to do. It especially spoke to me when you said “The person I am today is inspired by the person I was.” I recently stopped participating in something that I have known my whole life and dedicated every minute of every day to. It doesn’t define me but helps inspire me to be who I am today!

    Thank you,

    Shaye Foutty

  8. James,

    I truly appreciate the openness and creativity that is demonstrated in your essay. You show pure resilience in your journey of becoming the person you are and you want to be. This essay allowed me to see the positive impact of realizing you are not alone in your journey with stuttering. After reading your journey with stuttering, I believe you are on the right track to becoming who you want to be. I applaud your advocacy and inspiration to others especially those younger individuals who may be feeling that they are alone. You show them that they are not. Really great essay. Thank you for posting.

  9. James, I truly appreciate your creativity and passion on this subject! You truly show your resilience as a person through this creative piece! Nice work!

  10. James,

    Thank you so much for being so open about your journey in this piece. Your comments on “I still have time to be” were quite motivational. You opened up regarding the struggles you faced, specifically of seeing yourself as a “Porky Pig” type court jester in all situations in the past. However, you have come to realize that is not who you are and not how you are defined. You will definitely be a shining light, using your past experiences and realizing who you are to make a difference in children’s lives who may be feeling things similar to how you felt.

    Thanks again!

  11. James,
    Your openness and vulnerability to talk about your journey was amazing. There is no doubt in my mind that you are on your way to being that advocate (more than you already are) and the role model you seek to be!
    Thank you for sharing your work and story.

    Chloe Pieniazek